Monocropping Cultures into Ruin: The Loss of Food Varieties and Cultural Diversity
The loss of genetic diversity of thousands of plants and crops has been well documented at least since the 1970s, and has been understood as a result of epistemological and political economic conditions of the Green Revolution. The political economic arrangement of the Green Revolution, alongside a post-war focus on economies of scale and export-oriented growth, replace high-yield single varieties of crops for a diverse array of varieties that may not have the same yield, but may be able to resist pests, disease, and changing climatic conditions. Also, the harvest does not flow in all directions equally: Whereas small holder subsistence farming uses a large variety of crops as a food source and small-scale trade, the industrial economic system requires simplified, machine harvested ship-loads of one variety of maize, for example. Diverse varieties of different crops confound the machines, whereas one variety of wheat can be harvested with one setting on a machine. However, none of this is new. The purpose of this article is to analyze how the twin concerns of lost varietals and lost cultures are bound together in the socio-political process of standardization, and to explain some areas of resistance.
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